Mobile Security Featured Article
The Security Challenges of BYOD
November 26, 2012
There are issues most of have considered when we contemplate bringing our personal devices into work, such as the danger of exposing our work files if someone steals the personal laptop we’ve been using for work. But many perils of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend have gone unnoticed, such as having our personal files exposed in the discovery phase of a court case if we use our personal smartphone for work.
Employees who assume they have privacy might be in for a shock, noted Kevin Casey in a recent article for Information Week. “The personal devices they use at work could be examined not only by their employer but by the other party in the lawsuit. Their social media, photographs, personal email, geo-location information and many other kinds of data could be pored over at length.”
Whoa, say what?
“Everything an employee does on her personal iPhone (News - Alert), for example, could be used as evidence in a lawsuit against her employer,” confirmed Casey, who quotes a recent BYOD presentation by the law firm, Foley & Lardner, addressing the legal challenges of the trend.
The invasiveness (and extra cost of discovery) is not the only consequence of BYOD most of us have not considered.
Search and seizure is another BYOD danger most of us do not think about. If an employee uses his personal tablet for work and then has his device searched and seized while crossing the border, the convenience of using his own iPad for the trip suddenly loses its luster!
Employees, who often use whatever devices they need to get their jobs done, “need to know, via policy and education, that they're forfeiting certain rights to their personal devices by using them for work,” noted Casey.
The forfeiture of rights includes certain legal rights. Worker’s comp for repetitive stress might be off the table, for instance, if an employee is dashing off emails for work with his personal BlackBerry (News - Alert) by day and thanking his wife for the photos on the phone by night. Is it a clear-cut forfeiture of worker’s comp? No. But it certainly is more of a gamble if the device in question or not just for work.
The convergence of personal and professional devices also exposes our private data to unsentimental corporate data security policies, such as having files deleted by the corporate security software that the company might insist upon installing if the device is used for work.
Or, from the management standpoint: How do companies keep corporate data on personal devices secure not only from theft—but also from spouses and friends? What if the 5-year-old playing on Dad’s iPad emails the quarterly earnings by mistake or the jealous mistress deletes more than just the topless photos of the wife from the laptop?
“An employee sharing a BYOD-use iPad with his spouse certainly opens up potential issues such as corporate data loss or security breaches,” wrote Casey. “But it also creates a much thornier problem in terms of potential legal action against the employer.”
BYOD unleashes many consequences that employees and corporations are just starting to understand.
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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
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